Military bands played and Queen Elizabeth II joined a procession Saturday at Windsor Castle for the funeral where her husband Prince Philip was being remembered as a man of “courage, fortitude and faith.”
The service saluted both his service in the Royal Navy and his support for Britain’s monarch over three quarters of a century.
Prince Philip, who died April 9 at the age of 99 after 73 years of marriage, will be being laid to rest in the Royal Vault at Windsor Castle after a funeral service steeped in military and royal tradition — but also pared down and infused with his own personality.
Coronavirus restrictions meant that instead of the 800 mourners included in the longstanding plans for his funeral, there was only 30 inside the castle’s St. George’s Chapel, including the widowed queen, her four children and her eight grandchildren.
His coffin emerged from the State Entrance of Windsor Castle as those taking part in the ceremonial procession for his funeral took their places. It was loaded on a specially adapted Land Rover, designed by Prince Philip himself, for the eight-minute journey to St. George’s Chapel. Senior military commanders lined up in front of the vehicle, with members of the royal family following behind.
The queen rode in a state Bentley at the rear of the procession. The entire procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of the castle, a 950-year-old royal residence 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of London. It was shown live on television.
Under spring sunshine, some locals stopped outside the castle to leave flowers on Saturday, but people largely heeded requests by police and the palace not to gather because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince Philip’s coffin was draped in his personal standard, and topped with his Royal Navy cap and sword and a wreath of flowers.
The funeral reflected Prince Philip’s military ties, both as a ceremonial commander of many units and as a veteran of war. More than 700 military personnel took part, including army bands, Royal Marine buglers and an honor guard drawn from across the armed forces.
Those marching into place included soldiers of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, who were firing a gun salute, Guards regiments in scarlet tunics and bearskin hats, Highlanders in kilts and sailors in white naval hats.
Inside the Gothic chapel, the setting for centuries of royal weddings and funerals, the service was simple and somber. There was no sermon, at Prince Philip’s request, and no family eulogies or readings, in keeping with royal tradition. But Dean of Windsor David Conner will said the country has been enriched by Prince Philip’s “unwavering loyalty to our queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith.”
Prince Philip spent almost 14 years in the Royal Navy and saw action in the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific during World War II. Several elements of his funeral have a maritime theme, including the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” which is associated with seafarers and asks God: “O hear us when we cry to thee/For those in peril on the sea.”
As Prince Philip’s coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault, Royal Marine buglers sounded “Action Stations,” an alarm that alerts sailors to prepare for battle — a personal request from Prince Philip.
Along with Prince Philip’s children and grandchildren, the 30 funeral guests included other senior royals and several of his German relatives. Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark and, like the queen, is related to a thicket of European royal families.
Mourners were instructed to wear masks and observe social distancing inside the chapel, and not to join in when a four-person choir sings hymns. The queen, who has spent much of the past year isolating with her husband at Windsor Castle, sat alone.